We are a black faced "Border Style" morris side formed In 1981, when several members of local Cotswold Morris teams decided to perform dances from the Welsh Borders on an occasional basis. The resulting team was called "Dartford Motley" after the town where practices were held. It was also decided to keep the side all male. After a short time this team developed it's own identity, with it's distinctive coloured tatter jackets and using tunes and dance moves found in Kent. Further development led to renaming the side to "Motley Morris", as motley also means multi-coloured, this name seems to be particularly appropriate to our style. We dance throughout the year at a variety of venues, ranging from pubs to festivals and everything in between, with a number of radio and television appearances under our belts.
We are the resident morris side at Rochester Sweeps Festival which occurs over the May Day weekend. As custodians of 'Jack in the Green' we escort him on the bank holiday Monday procession.
What is Border style Morris and why the black faces?
Not hankies and bells! Our style is more primitive, rhythmic and involves aggressive stick clashing. The black faces were thought originally to be some form of disguise. Nowadays it is used to make us seem more fearsome! Contrary to popular belief we do not use burnt cork - but standard stage make up.
If you visit The Sweeps Festival, you will see sides using different colours and methods of 'disguise'. Besides black; red, blue and green are used. One side takes it to its ultimate and uses gruesomely painted plastic masks to cover their faces and heads. Another side paints their faces as Tigers - for no real reason other than preferring it to traditional black!